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We donít really know what these chemicals are doing to the fish, to the wildlife, and to the people that live around the Great Lakes.

Report: new chemicals threaten Great Lakes

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A new report calls on the U.S. and Canada to do more to protect human health and water quality in the Great Lakes. The International Joint Commission's biennial report says beach closures, contaminated groundwater, and invasive species continue to be significant problems in the region. Todd Moe reports.

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IJC Chairwoman Lana Pollack says beaches, shorelines, and wetlands – known as near shore habitat – need the most attention.

Because it is at the near shore that most people interact.  It is at the near shore where we see the greatest threats, the near shore where millions of people draw their drinking water from.  It is that near shore, impacted by invasive species, that provide the habitat, and certainly the recreation.

The report says run-off from farms is a growing threat to water quality.  And it says new chemicals like flame retardants and pharmaceuticals find their way into the groundwater, into the Lakes, and ultimately into people’s bodies.  David Carpenter is a public health researcher at the University of Albany.

So we have contamination of both the drinking water for many people who live in the Great Lakes basin and of the Great Lakes water themselves.  We don’t really know what these chemicals are doing to the fish, to the wildlife, and to the people that live around the Great Lakes.

The IJC’s report calls on the U.S. and Canada to revise the 40 year-old Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  The IJC says the agreement should commit to doing more to protect human health and reflect growing understanding of climate change.  The last time the agreement was revised to reflect new science and research was in 1987.

You can read the IJC’s report on our website, ncpr.org.

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